A moral intervention reduces doping likelihood in British and Greek athletes: evidence from a cluster randomised control trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Philip Hurst
  • Mariya Yukhymenko-Lescroart
  • Evangelos Galanis
  • Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis

Colleges, School and Institutes


Objectives: The authors aimed to develop a moral intervention and to determine whether it was more effective in preventing doping than an educational (i.e., knowledge-based) intervention; their primary outcome was doping likelihood, and the secondary outcomes were moral identity, moral disengagement, moral atmosphere, and anticipated guilt. Methods: Eligible athletes (N = 303) in the United Kingdom and Greece took part in the study. The authors randomly assigned 33 clubs to either the moral or the educational intervention. They measured outcomes pre- A nd postintervention and at 3- A nd 6-month follow-up. Results: Athletes in both interventions in both countries reported lower doping likelihood and moral disengagement and higher guilt from pre-to postintervention. These effects were maintained at the 3- A nd 6-month follow-ups. There were no effects on moral identity or moral atmosphere. Conclusions: In addition to disseminating information about doping, doping prevention programs should include content that focuses on moral variables.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This research was funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Social Science Research program (2015–2018). The authors would like to express their appreciation to WADA for funding this project. P.H. and A.K. were research associates at the University of Birmingham when this research was conducted.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-139
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date2 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021


  • Anticipated guilt, Moral atmosphere, Moral disengagement, Moral identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas